Sara Vicca

Postdoctoral fellow FWO

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About Sara Vicca

My research focuses on how different environmental factors influence carbon cycling in terrestrial ecosystems and how changes in these ecosystems feed back to the climate system. I am particularly interested in the role of nutrient availability and mycorrhizal fungi in ecosystem carbon cycle - climate feedbacks. For this research, I use different approaches: manipulation experiments testing specific hypotheses, syntheses of manipulation experiments to determine overarching patterns in responses to anticipated global changes, syntheses of observational field data to unravel responses to ongoing global changes, and satellite imagery to study vegetation dynamics from space. Especialy the synthesis studies have been a great inspiration to find data and metrics to usefully compare different sites and experiments.


Some recent publications using experimental data:

Vicca S, et al. 2014. Can current moisture responses predict soil CO2 efflux under altered precipitation regimes? A synthesis of manipulation experiments. Biogeosciences 11, 2991-3013.

Terrer C, Vicca S, et al. 2016. Mycorrhizal association as a primary control of the CO2 fertilization effect. Science 353, 72-74.

Terrer C, Vicca S, et al. 2018. Ecosystem responses to elevated CO2 governed by plant-soil interactions and the cost of nitrogen acquisition. New Phytologist 2, 507-522.

Verlinden M, ..., Vicca et al. 2018. Favorable effect of mycorrhizae on biomass production efficiency exceeds their carbon cost in a fertilization experiment. Ecology 99, 2525-2534.

Key publications using observational data:

Vicca S, et al. 2012. Fertile forests produce biomass more efficiently. Ecology Letters 15, 520-526. 

Fernández-Martínez M, Vicca S, et al. 2014. Nutrient availability as the key regulator of global forest balance. Nature Climate Change 4, 471-476.

Campioli M, Vicca S, et al. 2015. Biomass production efficiency controlled by management in temperate and boreal ecosystems. Nature Geoscience, 8, 843-846.

Fernández-Martínez M, Vicca S, et al. 2017. Atmospheric deposition, CO2 and change in the land carbon sink. Scientific Reports, 7, art. no. 9632.

Some of my publications using remote sensing data:

Balzarolo M, Vicca S, et al. 2016.  Matching the phenology of Net Ecosystem Exchange and vegetation indices estimated with MODIS and FLUXNET in-situ observations. Remote Sensing of Environment, 174, 290-300.

Vicca S, et al. 2016. Remotely-sensed detection of effects of extreme droughts on gross primary production. Scientific Reports 6:28269.

Publications on the comparability across sites and experiments:

Vicca S, et al. 2012. Urgent need for a common metric to make precipitation manipulation experiments comparable. New Phytologist 195, 518-522.

Van Sundert K, ..., Vicca S. 2018. The influence of soil properties and nutrients on conifer forest growth in Sweden, and the first steps in developing a nutrient availability metric. Biogeosciences 15, 3475-3496.

Vicca S, et al. 2018. Using research networks to create the comprehensive datasets needed to assess nutrient availability as a key determinant of terrestrial carbon cycling. Environmental Research Letters, in press.


All publications can be downloaded hereThe database of Global Change Manipulation Experiments used in some of my publications can be downloaded via this link.


Awards and distinctions:

2014: EOS Pipet (Eos magazine)

2015: Price Verbeure from research council (University of Antwerp)

2018: Highly cited researcher (



Statute & functions

Zelfstandig academisch pers.
  • docent
Bijzonder academisch personeel
  • post - doc navorser

Internal mandates

Bestuursmandaat (Bestuursorgaan)


Campus Drie Eiken
Universiteitsplein 1
2610 Wilrijk
Tel. 032651742